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Jessie M King and The Glasgow Girls

Welcome to our first blog post.  This one, inspired by some items we have in stock is about The Glasgow Girls and Jessie M King.  We hope to do many in future covering all sorts of subjects from more interesting items that we come across,  some restoration tips,  a bit about our beautiful region and anything else that we think you may find interesting.

It is always a thrill when, in our work, we find something not only beautiful and unique but which also has a local link to Dumfries & Galloway.  Recently, we were able to acquire a few pieces of hand decorated ceramics by a couple of the Glasgow Girls  including some items by Jessie Marion King.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Glasgow movement and would like to know more,  here is a brief introduction.

The May Queen by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh one of The Glasgow Girls

The Glasgow Girls were part of The Glasgow School, a circle of artists and designers that emerged in the 1870s in Glasgow.  The movement flourished and was highly regarded internationally.  These Glasgow artists were influenced by Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Japanese Aesthetic style, Impressionism and Post Impressionism and, between them, developed their own distinct Scottish style of the Art Nouveau movement, which became known across Europe as “The Glasgow School” or “The Glasgow Style”.

However, it was not until the 1960s that the epithet “The Glasgow Girls” was to emerge.  At that time there was a desire to recognise the outstanding work of the women artists and designers who had flourished in Glasgow in the late 19th to early 20th century because, although some of these talented women had gained international recognition, they had largely been eclipsed by the celebrity of “The Glasgow Boys”.

The Glasgow Girls is an umbrella term for the group of female artists, designers and craft workers, who studied at the Glasgow School of Art and worked in Glasgow at the end of the 19th and early part of the 20th century.  One of their leading lights was Jessie Marion King.  Jessie was born in 1875 in what is now Bearsden, Glasgow and, having demonstrated a talent for drawing, she enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art in 1893 where she went on to teach Book and Ceramic Illustration from 1899 until 1908. Jessie established an international reputation for Illustration and was in demand to illustrate many books throughout the Uk and Europe, including The Defence of Guenevere, and Other Poems (1904), by William Morris.

Jessie eventually married and with her husband worked in Salford then Paris where they opened their own school, The Sheiling Atelier, in Montmartre in 1911.  Her works in Paris are considered to have had a substantial influence on the Art Deco movement. Primarily known as an illustrator, Jessie also designed jewellery, fabrics, wallpapers and was an authority on Batik work. She designed, amongst others, for Liberty & Co of London.  Her reputation was enhanced by frequent publication of her drawings in The Studio, an influential periodical of the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements.

Forced to leave Paris at the outbreak of war in 1914, Jessie and her husband returned to Kircudbright in Dumfries & Galloway where Jessie had first visited around 1903. Kircudbright already had a thriving community of artists and a number of the Glasgow school artists had connections there. Jessie and her husband established themselves as key members of Kirkcudbright’s artistic community.  Through their teaching and wide circle of acquaintances, many artists were drawn to visit the town.  Here Jessie worked on Ceramic decoration which she sold through Paul Jones’ Tea Room in Kirkcudbright for which she had been commissioned to work on the interior design.

The outbreak of the second world war brought a halt to commissions and teaching work.  Jessie passed away in Kircudbright in 1949.  Her final commission was for an illustration for the cover of a book entitled “The Parish of New Kilpatrick” which was the name of the Bearsden parish where she had been born.

If you are interested in learning more about The Glasgow Girls or Jessie M King, I can highly recommend Jude Burkhauser’s Book, Glasgow Girls:  Women in Art and Design, 1880 – 1920 Published by Canongate.


Glasgow Girls ceramics currently in stock:

Jessie M King Hand Painted Vase

Jessie M King Hand Painted Dish and Cover

Hand painted Oval Dish by Mary L Fairgrieve, Glasgow Girl.

Small Hand Painted Dish by Mary L Fairgrieve, Glasgow Girl



Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, The May Queen:

Jessie King Silver Buckle for Liberty & Co:

portrait of Jessie King by Lena Alexander:

Jessie King Butterfly Illustration:

Jessie King Kircudbright Royal Burgh Cover: